Throughout months of rising tensions between Kim Jong Un’s North Korean regime and a consortium of foreign nations led by the United States, one question has loomed like a dark cloud over the diplomatic effort to avoid war: can sanctions actually affect any real change? A new series of sanctions making their way to a security council vote on Friday may finally answer that question once and for all.

New sanctions that may soon be adopted by the United Nations would see a ban on nearly all oil imports into the nation (previously limited to 2 million barrels per year) as well as a ban on exported labor, a significant revenue source for Kim’s regime. These sanctions may well be the final straw that forces Kim to the negotiating table… but what signs do we have that sanctions work at all?

While there are clear indicators that the economic sanctions in place, levied by both the United States and the United Nations, have had a significant effect on the day-to-day lives of North Koreans, it’s also clear that they have thus far failed to inhibit Kim’s pursuit of banned ballistic missile platforms or continued nuclear weapons testing.

The November launch of the Hwasong-15, North Korea’s most advanced ICBM platform to date, proved unequivocally that the near-two month lull in missile testing was not a show of good will, but rather a momentary focus on North Korea’s harvest season – a season of even greater importance than usual amid the aforementioned sanctions. Further, satellite images taken recently show ongoing excavations at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site buried beneath Mount Mantap. This work suggests Kim has plans for subsequent detonations, despite growing international concerns that the mountain itself may not be able to survive further testing.

So, it’s clear that Kim Jong Un has not wavered in his pursuit of either the platform or the weapon system, but that doesn’t mean the sanctions haven’t begun to sting. Here are signs that sanctions are already working:

The number of military defectors

(United Nations photo)

While it is never uncommon for North Korean citizens to try defect to South Korea by way of indirect routes that often travel through Kim-friendly nations like China, this year has seen a sharp uptick in North Koreans throwing caution to the wind and simply making a break for South Korean territory. Between 2011 and 2016, only four North Korean soldiers attempted to defect to South Korea. That number has been matched by North Korean troops fleeing to South Korea in just the last six months. It’s important to note that the stakes are incredibly high for defectors. Being caught would almost certainly result in death or a life sentence in one of North Korea’s prison camps – and the punishment is often extended through three generations of the defector’s family.

The condition of defectors